DEBATE ON BUDGET CONTINUES15-03-2017
Education, oil revenue, ICT, construction works, among others, drew heated debates from both sides of the Chamber. Educational funding as proposed in the budget was described by Hon. Sam Okudjeto Ablakwa as woefully inadequate he quoted similar sentiments expressed in the media by some groups with an interest in education. The Majority members insisted that there was rather relief as capitation grant had been raised from GH₵4.00 to GH₵ 9.00.
The SHS new fee free programme came under heavy criticism from the Minority who believe Ghanaian voters had been misled by campaign promises that the SHS would be free for all continuing and new entrants as it turns out it is only new entrants into SHS who stand to benefit from the policy. There were arguments about what would become of the numerous SHS yet to be opened or under construction. The budget was also said to be silent on how many new schools, especially SHS, would be opened this year.
In the area of agriculture, cocoa, coffee and cashew were mentioned but there was a palpable silence on cotton, a very important product for the clothing industry and for medical uses. Cotton producers in the northern regions and the northern part of Brong Ahafo Region were said to be deeply disappointed that the industry had not been given attention. Cashew equally needs special attention as a growing industry that is fetching dividends in the sub-region.
In another submission a member of the Minority was hopeful that the NPP would stop referring to the economic performance of the past regime as abysmal and desperate, as care must be taken that the information put out there should not make nationals lose hope.
Debts imputed to the past governments were long-term debts and servicing in many cases spanned several decades. The Minority said the blame game could distort the real state of debt management. A member of the Majority said the numerous tax exemptions for the business community and the one district, one dam would result in a gradual boom in the economy and pave the way for thousands of jobs which would turn around the nation`s fortune in a few years, especially that of the youth.